A Humanist Feminist on Homeschooling

Of course, someone took yesterday’s school shooting to comment on one of my homeschooling posts:

Today is 12-14- 2012 us homeschooled parents don’t seem that paranoid???? Seeing what happened in Conn??? Pray for the families

Fellow Patheos blogger Libby Anne knows a lot more about homeschooling than I do. Like me, she doesn’t like it, and for a lot of the same reasons, even though I’m a Christian theologian and she’s an atheist, humanist feminist. She has collected her posts on homeschooling on a page, which she introduces:

Homeschoolers are a diverse lot. Some homeschool for religious reasons, others for secular reasons. Some homeschooled children have a good deal of social interaction, others very little. Some get a first rate education, others suffer from educational neglect. Some use curricula and workbooks, others “unschool.” Some see homeschooling as a temporary option, others see it as a lifestyle.

The “Christian homeschool movement” is made up of those who homeschool in order to ensure that their children will hold specific religious beliefs and in the hope that their offspring will change America’s future direction. These homeschoolers use religious textbooks and limit their interaction to other like-minded families. Some educate well while others don’t, but all tend to see homeschooling as a requirement rather than an option.

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, and my family was part of this Christian homeschool movement. College brought me out of the homeschool bubble in which I was raised and introduced me to new ideas and to people with very different upbringings than my own. Little by little I began to question the things I was taught growing up.

I now have children of my own and have decided that I will not homeschool them. While most of my criticism is aimed toward the Christian homeschool movement and the way focuses on isolating (aka “sheltering”) and indoctrinating (aka “teaching God’s truth”), I also have some critiques of homeschooling in general. I want my daughter to have teachers who are trained in their subject matter and in how to teach, I want her to have the same socialization experience as other children, and I see involvement in our local schools as part of my civic duty.

If you’re passionate about this subject, I encourage you to read all of her posts on Homeschooling.

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  • I guess I’ll stop going to movie theaters now.

  • ME

    Is this an OK time to debate the Christian stance on gun control? If we enact gun control now, maybe 30 years from now this stuff will be a thing of the past. I don’t care about all the principles involved, just look at it pragmatically- the cost of gun freedom is far, far too high.

  • Keith Rowley

    Tony, this might be too soon to post this kind of thing. A lot of us don’t feel like debating today. Not about gun controll, not about homeschooling, not about the nature of God or the future of the church. We are still in shock and mourning.

  • Curtis

    All of these shootings have exactly two things in common: 1) guns 2) boys killing other people with guns. It may be too early to talk about guns, but it is never too early to talk about taking care of boys.

  • I’m trying to have a good reaction to that comment, something worthy of Christ, but… Lord, what fools these mortals be! Sometimes you have to go with the Bard to respond to this level of idiocy.

    At least it gave you a reason to give Libby Anne some more publicity. That post should be read by more people because it really is great.

  • Chris


    I don’t get it, or maybe I missed something somewhere. Are you trying to establish some causal link between homeschooling and this most recent tragedy? Or is this particular blogpost completely random and unrelated?

    • Absolutely not. A commenter on the blog did. Not me.

  • T. Webb

    Tony, I thought it was well known that liberals/progressives started the homeschooling movement in the 1960s.

    • Sven

      What’s your point? Nobody suggested homeschooling is exclusively right-wing.

  • I am a conservative Christian and can honestly say I do not homeschool for Christian reasons or because it is my duty as a believer. I am a child of the broken education mill that is the public school. As a parent, I chose not to repeat the process with my kids because I wanted them to be free to be themselves; to be kids as long as they wanted; to not have to deal with daily bullying. I wanted my kids to be able to be taught to their learning styles and with the freedom to delve into subjects of interest. I don’t have a Bible Curriculum although I naturally touch on subjects as they come up in conversation. I am sure I am not alone in this view. I think people watch the Duggars and assume we all fit that mold. Homeschool families, Christian or secular are far more diverse than that narrow view.

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